The story of how Carole King became a famed singer and songwriter inevitably will interest many people, those who know and love her songs and those always interested in learning about the rise of stars into the popular music universe. And, certainly, to hear the sounds which made her so special, revisiting or discovering them. What she wrote and performed are at the heart of Beautiful-The Carole King Musical, criss-crossing the U.S. and stopping for a while in Omaha at the Orpheum, even while it keeps on going on Broadway, now in its third year.
The story revolves around how her public persona emerged from a woman who, at first, merely hoped to be a good Jewish wife and mother but then fought her way into the record business. She established a significant career writing hits for major rock and roll performers such as the Shirelles, the Drifters, the Monkees and Aretha Franklin. Then fractures in her personal life pushed her into trying to become whole again in new way. The show also dwells on the songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
The vocal line-up includes “So Far Away,” “It’s Too Late, “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “On Broadway,” “Walking in the Rain,” and “Uptown.”
The book is by Douglas McGrath, an American screenwriter, film director, and actor. He was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA one for his work on Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway. He’s written scripts, among others, for Infamous, Nicholas Nickleby, Company Man, Emma and directed some. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_McGrath.
“This is entertaining boomer bait…with great songs and well-defined characters (which are) never less than engaging,” enthused The Hollywood Reporter, also saying that director Mark Bruni’s “polished staging briskly evokes the time and milieu with infectious energy.”
Because this features already existing songs around which the story unfolds, this is defined as a “jukebox musical;” the stage story is the new element. The jukebox surely had had its heyday by the time King glowed in the spotlights. But devices like it still exist in varied forms. Eternal. Just like what King created.
Beautiful-The Carole King Musical runs April 4-9, Orpheum Theatre, 409 S 16th St. Tues. Weds. Thurs: 7:3o p.m. Fri.: 8 p.m. Sat.: 2 & 8 p.m. Sun.: 1:30 & 7 p.m. Tickets $35-$120. https://www.omahaperformingarts.org/